Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

Why was FlashForward canceled?

by Rob - June 23rd, 2013.
Filed under: FlashForward.

Over on Quora, someone asked why FlashForward was canceled, and someone else replied with an answer that was partially right but significantly wrong. That answer:

The Lost curse. In the 6 years that Lost was on the air, ABC failed at using that monster hit to launch any new shows. The term “Flash Forward” was first used in the third season finale of Lost, and the show featured Lost alumni Dominic Monaghan and Sonya Walger.

ABC launched FlashForward as well as a remake of V (with Lost‘s Elizabeth Mitchell) as shows that would take on Lost‘s audience after it ended. At the end, it was reported a choice between FlashForward and V over which one would continue, and ABC went with V, which only lasted one more season.

My response:

Despite XXXX’s comment (he asserts “the term ‘Flash Forward’ was first used in the third season finale of Lost” — as if that’s where the idea came from), that’s just not true.

FlashForward the TV series was an adaptation of my 1999 novel of the same name, published five years before the first season of Lost debuted.

More: as announced in Variety on 26 September 2002 — two years before Lost debuted — David Goyer was attached then to write, direct, and produce an adaptation of my novel FlashForward … which is precisely what Dave eventually went on to do (co-authoring the pilot with Brannon Braga).

Also, the pilot script for FlashForward was developed at HBO (which is why HBO is credited on each episode); HBO was not looking to imitate anything on broadcast TV. The casting of Sonya Walger (who appeared in only 14 of the 121 episodes of Lost) as FlashForward‘s female lead was in no way an attempt at Lost-related stunt casting.

FlashForward was cancelled for two reasons. The first was scheduling: the series was not suitable viewing for 8:00 p.m. / 7:00 p.m. Central (the traditional TV “family hour”), but that’s when ABC slotted it (and kept it for its entire run): the intensity, violence, gun use, and presence of a major lesbian character, brilliantly played by Christine Woods, is not what America wanted in that timeslot. So, by the end of the first season, the ratings were low.

The second reason was budgetary: Stephen McPherson, then president of ABC, did only want to keep one science-fiction show. In the end, we were delivering the same ratings each week as V, also on ABC, but we were produced in Los Angeles and had an expensive cast; V was produced in Vancouver and had a much less expensive cast. So, V was (sort of) renewed and we were not.

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58 Responses to Why was FlashForward canceled?

  1. I binge watched the 1st season in 3 days. This show was absolutely brilliant. The plot, characters, story line, cinematography, concept, and actors all brilliant. It would make for great tv in 2016. I think a lot of people would watch it if it had more seasons. I still can’t understand why in the h*ll it ever got canceled. As for the ratings, time slot , whatever. I’m thinking it shouldn’t have aired in 2009 but more like in 2011 or 2012 if they’d aired it then it would probably still be a running series right now. Since it ended in a massive cliffhanger with lots of ends never to be known I’m thinking it would be a good idea to make a film series adaptation maybe about 3 or 4 films to complete the story line or a mini series would do the job and give a lot of us fans of Flash Forward the answers we need as to the conclusion of this awesome storyline.

  2. I agree this show was brilliant, I also binge watched the entire first season in a few days myself. Its hard to believe anything was chosen over this series, and sad. I feel like there’s another reason we aren’t supposed to know about as to why this was cancelled.

  3. Was really bummed this show was cancelled. Can some PLEASE tell me what was up with the kangaroo???

  4. Martin, artistically, the kangaroo was a visual metaphor for leaping ahead in time; that it appeared again in “Scary Monsters and Super Creeps” foreshadowed the second flashforward, seen later in the series. As far as story logic is concerned, the kangaroo had been able to escape from the Los Angeles Zoo during the first global blackout.

  5. A question for anyone who has read the Novel, is it covering only season 1 of the tv series? or is it the same plot but different context?
    in other words, is it complete, or will it end with a lot of unanswered questions?


  6. Khaled, my novel is complete in and of itself. The storyline starts similarly to the FLASHFORWARD TV series, but concentrates on physicist character Lloyd Simcoe. The novel came first, and ends with a full resolution, not a cliffhanger.

  7. Thanks very much, I bought the German version of it, can’t wait to start.

    The TV series was really cool, too bad it was cancelled, hope that ABC have some second thoughts on that, maybe start it all over again, but this time stick to the book ;)

  8. Why even invest time getting to know characters on televion anymore of the powers that be are just going to rip them away from you?

    Time of my life ill never get back….

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